Once again politics blocks families from accessing better schools

Blame Betsy DeVos.

Passing any legislation that gives a golden ticket to parents who want out of public schools (and into private schools) is difficult, but it is next to impossible now that all school choice proposals are attached national boogiemen (ahem, boogie women?) like school reform’s moneyed maven from Michigan.

When DeVos came to Tennessee recently and urged lawmakers to pass school voucher legislation, the proposal went into hospice.

Now, for a fourth year a bill to provide a pilot group of Tennesseans with publicly funded access to private schools – this time aimed just at families in Memphis – is dying a soft death. State Sen. Brian Kelsey who sponsored this year’s legislation says he won’t ask a Senate committee to take up his bill, citing lack of parent support in Germantown for its passage.

Just another example of how politics gets in between families and life saving opportunities families need.

Suffocating another school choice bill means 5,000 students who may have had a broader group of schools to choose from in 2018 won’t have an opportunity to do so. They can thank local school boards and elected officials across Shelby County for trapping them in schools where those officials see children as dollars and opportunity as a zero-sum proposal.

The Daily News quotes Bartlett Schools Superintendent David Stephens as saying “Anytime we take dollars out of public schools, we’re hurting public schools…We don’t need to do anything to hurt or cut funding there. When we talk in Shelby County about school choice, we have the municipal districts, charter schools, the county school system. That’s choice.”

Maybe parents don’t want more choices. Maybe they feel their current schools are just fine. Even if Memphis’ achievement gap is larger than most cities, it’s closing

But there is one problem: if parents are so against vouchers why are school officials so worried offering them to parents would result in a loss of revenue? Because parents would use vouchers even though they don’t want to use them?

Come on people. Wake up. It’s a trap. Our kids are paydays. 


If you’re a parent worried about finding a school that works best for your child, don’t worry. Stephens, Kelsey, and all of the people who earn paychecks or campaign cash from school districts have decided you have all the choice you need.

And, conveniently, DeVos makes it easy for them to justify limiting your pathway out of schools that don’t work for your children.

It’s all a game and you are losing.